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Net gains – smart home tech for a greener future

Truly smart homes are key to meeting the UK’s emissions targets

As a country, the UK is on a mission to achieve Net Zero – the state of eliminating or offsetting all greenhouse gas emissions – by 2050. The legally binding target has already effected action in industry, with Ofgem publishing a decarbonisation plan for the energy sector, for example.

However, the private sector also counts numerous organisations aiming to make their contribution towards a greener future. Many, such as Manchester based Wondrwall, are tackling the issue of energy consumption and efficiency in our homes – a vital piece in the Net Zero puzzle.

The art of smart

The smart home typically can generate and store its own electricity, sell surplus back to the grid, limit power consumption to off-peak times for maximum cost savings, and secure energy efficiencies from the remote – and often automated – control of devices, appliances, and heating.

Wondrwall’s system achieves these functions through advanced light switches, installed in every room with sensors to detect motion, temperature, luminosity, and humidity, as well as speakers and a microphone, so homeowners can talk to the system via Amazon Alexa.

These sensors collect data on how individual rooms are used, with the application of machine learning via an automation system then building up a picture of the home’s energy consumption. This enables the system to enact functions such as automatically turning the lights off when you leave home, and delaying turning the heating on if you are back later than expected. It also learns normal patterns of use in different rooms of the home, localising energy use to maximise efficiency.

Fully charged

In addition to its home automation setup, Wondrwall’s full system also comprises a battery, solar panels, and inverter.

This kind of technology is a crucial aspect of genuine smart homes, as it enables them to generate their own energy which can then be converted for use or sold back to the grid. Batteries, when combined with intelligent systems, can also store energy automatically bought from the grid at the lowest possible price (usually at night when demand is low), in line with expected domestic use the following day.

These features not only help homeowners save money, they also make homes extremely efficient. Smart home systems may not be a common feature in our houses, but if the UK is to meet its Net Zero targets then they have a vital role to play.